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QTractor and drums (quick drums procedure)

Hi everybody ; I've been trying QTractor and I really like the way it works. The Problem is the way *I* work ; Every time I stumble onto things when trying to quickly make a drums track, say for a rehearsal.

I'd like to know the easiest & quickest way to lay down a drum track in QTractor
Then I can create a midi clip in that track, and each piano key would be a drum element..?

This is more of a "work flow" question : I would like to be able to launch a QTractor session, activate generic, pre-defined tracks for all present instruments (say Bass, Guitar, and lead vocal) - this part I have, by the way, and it works great - and then have a "drums" track handy where I just create a clip and click-click-click-click, this is the HH, click-click-click-click, this is the Bass drum, click-click this is the Snare, loop that and party.

Ideally, it would then be easy to switch sounds, either individually or the whole drum kit.
Ideally, all those drums sounds "slots" would have a pan pot so I can balance them

I'd like to avoid using hydrogen, because 1-My brain is not big enough for two apps, one of which is an host for other apps..?! (oh and both top-level apps would be sequencers, aarg no) 2-Nor is my RAM ; Hydrogen is failing on me today (yesterday it worked flawlessly on the same setup) segfaults and then says "jack: Audio driver not loaded" I think it's a memory problem because QTractor himself says "Cannot lock down memory area (Cannot allocate memory)" at each launch.

PS - Is a Dual-core intel (says 2Ghz) with only One Gig of RAM a possible setup or should I stop right away ?

rncbc's picture

hello, be welcome,

re. quick drums procedure
as you might know, Qtractor pretends to be a generic audio/MIDI sequencer so there's nothing specific to lay out a MIDI drums track from the ground up. You'll have to prepare the nuts and bolts first. THat is to say that a drum track is no different than a regular melodic one, from Qtractor's POV. However there's things you may find of greater help in pursuing what you're asking. I'll leave you with some hints and let you do all the homework :)

  1. MIDI channel 10 is the GM standard for drum tracks; there are good soundfonts (sf2) which also stick with this standard; key tooltip names are then shown as percussion/drum names while doing on the MIDI clip editor (aka piano-roll editor).
  2. having some on your own custom way, you may write and assign a Cakewalk Instrument Definition file (.ins) to any MIDI bus/track/channel--that's the only way you can have your specific key percussion drum names as exactly as you wish, not necessarily sticking to GM layout.
  3. when happy with a certain session track layout, having it all to your liking and work-flow, you can then save it as a session template (.qtt) and opt to mark it as default for all your Qtractor scratch sessions (see View/Options.../Display/New session template option). (*)

-- in the words of Abe Lincoln (allegedly): Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax. ;)

re. cannot lock down memory
which are your JACK settings? are you using QjackCtl, the command line or just running OOTB as is? :) the cannot lock down memory seems to be related to lack of real-time and/or mem-lock privileges as demanded by jackd. Please read the JACK FAQ if you have the time :)


(*) nb. you can have ANY session file type as your template, be that regular .qtr, .qtt or .qts, .qtz.

I'm trying to import note names for gm drums from sf2 files but cannot succeed. Tried FluidR3_GM.sf2, merlin_vienna.sf2, merlin_gold.4.10.sf2 etc. In which sf2 file I can find these drum name definitions, or is there some problem with note name import in Qtractor at the moment?

Best regards, Tuomas

rncbc's picture

erm. sorry. i'm afraid sf2 doesn't give you note names even though you may import them under View/Instruments...

but the default GM names are there, as long you stick to MIDI channel 10, no less :)

ntl. you can use the now old GM/GS/XG standard instrument definitions from cakewalk's: Standard.ins


Thanks for reply. Now I finally found note names in tool tips, when I made new empty track with no instrument definition and channel 10 => note names appeared. But if I have selected an instrument (although in channel 10), note names are not there. For example, when using FluidR3_GM.sf2, you could select bank 128 (where drum kits reside) and from there Standard (or some other) drum kit, and then there are no drum names visible any more.

What about controller names, should they take effect somehow? I have them defined for my Roland RD-700SX but did not find them in effect in Piano Roll.

Figured out this last one myself. Works if I have "Control=Roland..." in my .ins file.

rncbc's picture

ah. well, i might have missed it, after all it was some years ago that i've made instrument mapping from sf2... and i swear that bank 128 would made it as a drum/percussion track no matter which MIDI channel is assigned to that MIDI track... :/

guess that i have to scrub that "short blanket" again :)


rncbc's picture

i think it's fixed now, on svn trunk rev.3441 (aka. qtractor


yPhil's picture

Thank you very much for your quick answer, I'm going to look in the directions you kindly provided ; I know very little about sound fonts, but from I read here ( it very much looks like an elegant solution to my "problem". Let's try out QSynth ! Have a nice WEnd everybody

babarosa's picture

Hi there,

you can use "swami soundfont editor" (, get the latest version from here:

Compiling swami isn't difficult either.

@Rui, once again a lot of thank yous for your wonderful applications!


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